Complex data type

Not to be confused with Aggregate data type.

Some programming languages provide a complex data type for complex number storage and arithmetic as a built-in (primitive) data type.

In some programming environments the term complex data type (in contrast to primitive data types) is a synonym for the composite data type.[1][2]

Complex number arithmetic

A complex variable or value is usually represented as a pair of floating point numbers. Languages that support a complex data type usually provide special syntax for building such values, and extend the basic arithmetic operations ('+', '', '×', '÷') to act on them. These operations are usually translated by the compiler into a sequence of floating-point machine instructions or into library calls. Those languages may also provide support for other operations, such as formatting, equality testing, etc. As in mathematics, those languages often interpret a floating-point value as equivalent to a complex value with a zero imaginary part.

Language support


The COMPLEX data type was provided in FORTRAN IV.[4]


  1. IBM Informix Database Design and Implementation Guide
  2. Flash 8 Documentation
  3. Python v2.6.5 documentation
  4. A guide to Fortran IV programming Daniel D. McCracken - 1972 - 288 pages. "The capability provided by Fortran complex operations is a great savings in programming effort in certain problems. "
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